by jared on September 09, 2011
I think hospitals are the antithesis of roller coasters. People with heart conditions and pregnant women should be admitted, and you want the ride to be over as soon as possible.
But how can you find the hospital that will give you the least bumpy ride?
We realize that you may not have much control over where you go because of insurance constraints or because the imminency of your condition forces you to go to the closest hospital, irrespective of its quality. However, if you are ever able to plan your hospital visit in advance, you can now use DocSpot to help you make your decision.
To get started, click on the "find a hospital" tab in the upper right corner of the homepage. You can sort your options by hospital size, type, or whether or not a hospital is affiliated with a medical school. You can also search for accredited hospitals on DocSpot. Accreditation is important because it means that the hospital has passed basic quality inspections.
Since patients enjoy reading anecdotal reviews, like for our doctor search, we have pulled together star ratings from multiple websites. We have also included Medicare's survey data of patient experience; some of you may find these results more helpful than online reviews. For one, they are broken down into specific aspects of hospital care, such as pain control, quietness, and cleanliness. Secondly, the survey ratings generally average feedback from hundreds of patients, many more than you would find on most review websites.
As always, take patient ratings with a grain of salt. Often reviews don't accurately reflect the actual performance of a hospital as far as outcomes, like readmissions and mortality. Readmission rates are important because they let you know how many people had to return to the hospital because of complications or worsening symptoms. Often re-hospitalizations are preventable, especially for Medicare patients, who may readmitted due to poor discharge planning.
There are many dimensions to hospital quality, and the literature on how to properly evaluate hospitals is contantly changing. In the coming months, we hope to add more data sources to help you make the better decisions about hospitals, including hospital infection rates, out-of-pocket costs for common procedures, and a richer array of accepted insurance plans. Please leave us feedback, and let us know how we can make finding a hospital even easier for you!